Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Situation Room


The blog, Failed Messiah, noticed that there was something missing from the Hasidic newspaper’s version of the iconic Situation Room photo taken during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In place of Hillary Clinton, Der Tzitung had Photoshopped in an empty chair. Staffer Audrey Tomason was removed as well. It turns out that, due to “laws of modesty,” the newspaper forbids pictures of women. Thus the editors literally scrubbed Clinton and Tomason from history, violating the terms of use attached to the photo, which prohibited manipulating it in any way. The Jewish daily Hamodia took a simpler approach, simply cropping Clinton and Tomason out of the shot. After an uproar, Der Tzitung apologized, sort of. The editors regretted breaking the rules and offending people, but insisted, “The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office, is a malicious slander and libel.” It is true that Der Tzitung doesn’t seem to have a problem with women being in politics—as Politico reported, the paper actually backed Clinton during the primaries. But it’s hard not to see something profoundly disrespectful in the notion that a woman’s face is, in and of itself, offensive. Nor were these isolated incidents. In Israel, ultra-orthodox or haredi papers routinely refuse to show women, including Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Kadima party and a likely future prime minister. A 2008 Jerusalem Post story quoted someone from the community explaining, “Photoshop works overtime in a haredi newspaper.” - Michelle Goldberg

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